Court name
Bulawayo High Court
Case number
CRB 70 of 2000

S v Munga (CRB 70 of 2000) [2003] ZWBHC 68 (22 May 2003);

Law report citations
Media neutral citation
[2003] ZWBHC 68

                                                                                    Judgment No. HB 68/2003

                                                                                    Case No. HC

                                                                                    CRB 70/00









NDOU J (with Assessors Messrs Hadebe and Ndondo)



H Ushewokunze IIIfor the state

L Nkomofor the accused, pro deo


Criminal Judgment


            NDOU J:        Before us is a young man aged 21 who has brutally caused the


death of his wife.  The manner in which the accused brought about the death of his


wife is common cause.  His defence is one of criminal incapacity.  What is not clear


from his defence is whether this alleged incapacity is on account of insanity or a non-


pathological one.  I will deal with this issue later in the judgment.


            The salient facts of this case are that on 10 March 2000 the accused took the


deceased to his rural home at George Zingwa’s homestead, Sianungu Village,


Kanyangwe area in Binga.  He introduced the deceased to his relatives as his wife. 


He lived with her at his elder brother’s above-mentioned homestead.  This extended


family lived together happily save for one minor dispute between the accused and


the deceased.  The 18th April is Independence Day in this country.  Like many


Zimbabweans on 18 April 2000 the George Zingwa extended family, inclusive of the


head of the family, George, his wife Ivies, the accused and the deceased, proceeded to


the venue of the celebrations.  At the celebrations the accused did not drink alcohol,


or at least the evidence before us shows that he was not seen drinking and there were


no symptoms of alcohol consumption.  The family returned home in the evening and


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shared the evening meal.  The sole witness, Ivies Zingwa, who testified did not


observe any beer at the homestead.  She stated that there was no beer at the


homestead.  It can safely be inferred from her evidence that until the time that she


retired to bed at around 2000 hours the accused was sober and normal.  According to


Mr s Zingwa the accused was not a habitual drinker.  She had, however, seen him


once showing some effect of alcohol consumption.  But certainly on the fateful day


there was nothing unusual about his sobriety.  She has known the accused as a child


from the time he was in primary school to right through until he did his grade 7.  He


was staying with her at the same homestead as he is a young brother to her husband. 


She described the accused as a very reserved and quiet character.  According to her


description of the accused’s personality he was an introvert but he was normal.  He


had not suffered any mental illness during the time she had known him.  She knew the


accused person very well.


            Coming to the events of the fateful day.  She had reason to be close to the


couple’s bedroom hut.  She heard the deceased’s voice in normal conversation with


the accused.  She did not hear the accused at he usually speaks softly.  This was


around 0600 hours.  She later herd the deceased screaming loudly calling her saying


some words to the effect – “Mai Priscillah”.  The deceased’s voice emanated from the


couple’s bedroom and sounded frightened.  She ran to the couple’s hut and heard the


deceased crying, “Maye ngafa”  loosely translated “Oh mother I am dying”.  She tried


to open the couple’s closed bedroom hut door by pushing it but failed as it was locked


or bolted from inside.  She peeped through a gap on the door.  She saw the deceased


lying down facing the floor and her head full of blood.  The deceased was bleeding


profusely that the witness ended up crying.  The accused continued to swing the

                                                                                                                        HB 68/03


hammer which he was wielding upwards and with full force struck the deceased


several times about her heard.  At some point the deceased stopped crying.  After


some time George Zingwa arrived and forced the door open.  He actually chopped it


with an axe.  At that stage the accused had set the couple’s clothes on fire.  The


deceased was breathing heavily.  George went to report to the police and seek medical


assistance.  When George was away and before the police and the ambulance


personnel arrived, the accused was quiet.  He took a blanket and covered the


deceased.  Mrs Zingwa testified that at that time she formed an opinion


that the accused had not taken alcohol.  He was not drunk.  The accused did not


smoke.  The police arrived and the accused was arrested.  As the accused was being


led into the ambulance the accused told Mrs Zingwa that he assaulted the deceased


because she was no longer listening to him but instead was listening to her.  He said


this in response to bad words to him emanating from Mrs Zingwa and others who


were present.  At the time the accused was still locked inside with the deceased and


those outside were shouting why he was killing someone’s child the accused uttered


words to the effect – “If anyone comes in, that person is no more.”


            From the undisputed testimony of Mrs Zingwa we are satisfied that the


accused was not under the influence of alcohol.  She knows the accused very well and


would have observed it if he was drunk.  She did not smell alcohol and at that time of


the day the accused would not have started drinking in any event.  All we can discern


from his defence outline and what he told the specialist psychiatrist is that, if indeed


he consumed alcohol and smocked two dagga cigarettes it would have occurred


between 2000 hours of 18 April 2000 and 0600 hours of 19 April 2000.  This, in our


view, is far fetched and a fabrication.  In his extra-curial statement he did not give


                                                                                                                        HB 68/03


drunkeness or insanity as a reason for the assault.  When everything was still vivid in


his mind he gave a coherent and understandable explanation for the assault.  He said


he assaulted her because of disobedience.  He ordered her to go and fetch water to


mould bricks to build a house.  Not only did the deceased decline to do so, she further


stated that house “was not hers”.  During our deliberations it became clear that such a


response might be taken in a very serious light in a rural set up where women are not


expected to disobey marital instructions of their husbands.  To further state that the


house is not hers can infuriate a man in the accused’s position.  This is consistent with


what he told those who were present at the time that he assaulted her because she no


longer listened to him but instead listened to Mrs Zingwa.   This is also consistent


with what he stated in his extra-curial statement.


            In the circumstances, the accused’s rage and actions subsequent to that have to


be viewed in that context.  Mr Nkomo, for the accused rightly conceded that this


whole issue of drinking beer and smoking two dagga cigarettes is an after thought. 


A year later, when he was seen by the specialist psychiatrist the accused must have 


tried to give a plausible explanation for the assault and in the process deviated from


the truth.  We do not agree that when the accused killed the deceased he was


labouring under such a defect of reason, from a disease of the mind, that he did not


know the nature and quality of what he did and that what he did was wrong.  From the


expert evidence of Dr Poskotchinova the accused was free from any psychotic


symptoms.  He was orientated in all respects and there was no evidence of cognitive


impairment.  He denied any delusions and hallucinations of any kind.  The doctor


opined that due to alcohol and drugs that he had consumed the accused was in a state


of diminished responsibility at the time of killing.  We have already indicated that the


                                                                                                                        HB 68/03


alleged intake of alcohol and cannabis is a mere fabrication exposed as such by the


credible testimony of Mrs Zingwa.  This fabrication, unfortunately does impact on the


conclusion arrived at by the psychiatrist.  The opinion would be correct if the accused


told her the truth.  He did not, so the opinion is affected thereby.


            In our view the accused’s mental condition at the time of the offence, does not


satisfy the requirements of insanity.  We may at most be dealing with the case of


abnormal condition and as such the accused is legally responsible for the offence and


must be convicted.  So even if we accept the findings of the psychiatrist that there was


diminished responsibility the accused would still be convicted.  Diminished


responsibility reduced the accused’s moral blameworthiness and not guilt – S v Sibiya


1984 (1) SA 91(A); S v Chitiyo 1987(1) ZLR 235 at 239 and Criminal Procedure in


Zimbabweby John Reid Rowland at 12-12 to 12-13.


            In our view, in light of the findings of fact about the allegation of intake of


alcohol and drugs the issue of diminished responsibility does not arise.  The only


other issue that we have to consider is one of non-pathological criminal incapacity. 


The evidence show that the accused is a very quiet person.  The cause of mental


inability seems to emanate from anger linked to mental or physical exhaustion


resulting from a perceived disobedient wife.  This strained the accused’s powers of 


self-control until these powers snapped – S v Arnold 1985(3) SA 256 (C).  What is


important is not the cause or the description of the cause but the inability itself – see


Criminal Lawby C R Snyman 3rd Ed at page 152-3.  This defence has to be treated


with great caution as it can be raised easily by the accused but very difficult for the


state to refute.  Non-pathological incapacity as a complete defence ought not to


succeed easily.  Our courts should not allow this defence to succeed easily otherwise


                                                                                                                        HB 68/03


our criminal justice system would easily become discredited – see Chretien v S 1981


  1. SA 1097 at 1105H and 1106D.  In casu, the emotional disturbance was only for a


brief moment before or during the act and as such its chances of success as a defence


are almost non-existent.  According to Snyman (supra) on page 154 it is significant


that in those cases in which the defence was raised or in which the court was at least


prepared to consider it seriously, the accused’s act was preceded by a very long period


months or years in which his level of emotional stress increased progressively – see


also S v Campher 1987(1) SA 940(A); S v Calitz 1990(1) SA 119(A) and S vSmith


1990(1) SACR 130 (A).  This was not the case in casu.


            The burden of proving a defence of the kind raised by the accused lies on the


accused.  R v Moyo 1969(1) RLR 162G and R v Benjamin 1968(1) RLR 126(G) and S


v Taanorura 1987(1) ZLR 62 (S).  With this in mind one would have thought the


accused would have found it prudent to testify under oath to establish a foundation for


his defence.  He chose not to do so.  Fortunately, the state adduced evidence of the


specialist psychiatrist.  Having regard to the totality of the evidence and our findings


the accused has not established a defence of non-pathological incapacity either.  We


hold the view that the accused appreciated what he was doing.  His utterances during


and after the assaults are consistent with a husband who was annoyed with a wife who


did not follow his instructions or “command” as the psychiatrist recalls it in her


report.  This is a case of domestic rage.  The accused should be held criminally


responsible for his act.  The accused used a hammer weighing 2.11 kilogrammes.  The


length of its head is 12.5 centimetres and circumference of the head 18.9 centimetres. 


The length of the handle is 29 centimetres and the circumference of the handle is 10


centimetres.  He aimed his blows indiscriminately about her head.  She was


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defenceless.  According to the post mortem report the cause of death was multiple


skull and jaw fractures and violent murder.  Whilst we accept that the accused’s


emotional state has to do with the assault, we find that the proven facts establish the


crime of murder with legal intent.  This is not a case were the accused had


successfully established diminished responsibility entitling him the reduction of his


conduct to one of culpable homicide.


            We, accordingly find the accused guilty of murder with constructive intent.






Attorney-General’s Officeapplicant’s legal practitioners

Webb.Llow & Barry respondent’s legal practitioners